Squats, weightlifting, and running on the elliptical may seem either like a daily or daunting ritual for most gym-goers, but for those like Krissy Mae Cagney — it’s so much more. It’s recovery.
Just like any other teenager growing up in the rural area of Reno Nevada, Cagney found herself curious and involved in many activities. Unfortunately, Cagney also found herself involved with an addiction to cocaine and alcohol at the age of 15 – one that would carry on for 10 years after that.
“On May 28th, 2013 I woke up in a hospital where I would endure alcohol seizures for the following 24 hours,” Cagney wrote through Instagram correspondence.
According to a doctor at the hospital attending Cagney, she had the health conditions of someone twice her age.
It was a startling piece of news to the young woman who hadn’t yet reached age 21.
In that moment, she realized she would have to make major changes in her life, beginning with cutting out excessive partying, and her addictive habits.
Cagney endured years of recovery, both mental and emotional, and decided to harness all of her energy into working out at her local gym.
“I didn’t know many people in recovery,” Cagney said. “I used the gym as my safe place … exercise is a medicine when used the right way.”
Just 3 years ago, Cagney worked her way up to becoming a fitness fanatic and opened her very own gym in her hometown coined the “Black Iron Gym.”
The 6,000-square-foot fitness space is geared with two Olympic lifting platforms, concept two rowers and assault bikes, a 50-foot rig with 10 squat racks, a variety of dumbbells and specialty bars – but still, missing something.
This past March, Cagney decided to incorporate something entirely new into her gym, a concept close to her heart and unlike anything she’d seen done within a gym before: Recovery.
Hence the creation of ‘Reps For Recovery’, a free-membership foundation that Cagney started and geared towards those on or starting down their road to sobriety for their drug or alcohol abuse.
With the aid of a Go Fund Me post requesting assistance with funds for equipment, repairs, and supplies for her training sessions with those willing to commit, Cagney currently is over $78,000 – just slightly under $7,000 away from meeting her goal of $85,000.
In one month, Cagney has managed to take on over 100 members for her free program.
She was able to help to change their lives with exercising out their muscles, and also their substance abuse illness.
“I first heard of Reps For Recovery through my sister’s friend,” said Claire Clark, a current member of Cagney’s foundation and weight-lifting prospect. “[My friend] knew I was in early recovery … I looked at [Cagney’s] page and literally went into Black Iron Gym and signed up the following day.”
Initially, Clark mentions feeling “star-struck” when meeting Cagney for the first time, but says she felt comfortable once she had a conversation with her.
“[Cagney] made me feel right at home…I could feel that she really cared about my experience at the gym.”
For Clark, getting used to the exercising regimen took some adjustment.
“Commitment in sobriety can be a mentally tricky thing,” Clark explained.
“I started out nervously going to mid-day cross fit classes while eating like a trash can and not fully taking care of myself physically and mentally outside of the gym.”
But after forming bonds with other members, Clark felt excited to return to the gym,and more inclined fix her eating habits.
Clark recalls her anxiety quickly disappearing and being replaced with gratitude, as she progressed in Cagney’s courses.
“People loved me at the gym before I loved myself—which got me where I am today, Clark said.
Clark added she is “in long-term recovery, lost 35 pounds, and [is] happier than ever.”
The recent increase in Rep For Recovery’s membership program has opened Cagney to the idea of hiring therapists to offer consoling to those needing an ear, in addition to providing clothing to low income women who can’t afford proper athletic wear.
“This costs money,” Cagney wrote to her 416,000 followers on Instagram, before stating her program’s importance. “[Reps For Recovery] has the potential to be nation wide with your help.”
The 29-year-old fitness guru and inspiration to many like past self still struggles with overcoming her fear for failure, openly admitting that asking for financial help hasn’t been an easy task.
Yet, Krissy says putting her ego aside has proved to be worth it, as the end goal is to “offer people a safe place of support” and put a stop to “the disease that almost took [her] life” just years ago.